Aikido is a Japanese grapple-style martial art – similar to Judo but less competitive, similar to Jujitsu but more graceful.
It involves lots of wrist grabs, arm locks, throws and endless forward rolling and backward rolling. Plus a little Karate-style corkscrew punching and kicking inherited as standard from Japanese culture. And some weapons – armed vs armed techniques, as well as armed vs unarmed (and vice versa).
More so than with modern-day judo and jujitsu, Aikido embodies finesse. Its founder was devoted to using minimal effort for maximum reward, while avoiding any unnecessary conflict or damage to one’s adversaries. This core principle is pretty much the same as the core principle of Tai Chi Quan. The key differences between Aikido and Tai Chi being that Aikido was developed for emphasis on grappling, and this is quite evident by the amount of rolling around the floor that’s involved.
Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) founder of Aikido
Aikido also retains plenty of its original technicality – party because it’s a fairly new style, being less than 100 years old, which means that fraudsters haven’t yet so much infiltrated the higher ranks of the art and broadly commercialised it accordingly – and partly because it was founded by a master of Jujitsu who was capable of establishing a thorough routine of training and promotion, centralised by the founder’s own son and grandson to this day in the Hombu Dojo, in Japan.
However, on the down side, and there’s always a down side in mass martial arts: Aikido’s ability to retain its technical qualitites is largely due to how it’s so consistently bogged down in typical Japanese martial tradition from school to school, and this of course limits its practicality – it’s limited to what can be learnt without behaving brashly – without unwelcomed intuition – in the dojo. Much like in a traditional Karate class, only the teachers and their closest assistants are permitted to throw their weight around, and this of course grants the teachers access to make things up without being interrogated for it.
Steven Seagal – Aikido 7th Dan
Steven Seagal, the straight-to-DVD action movie star, is famous for the movies but also famous within the martial arts arena as being a “7th Dan” Aikido master which is pretty high considering the well-regulated upper-echelons of the world’s Aikido community to this day. Just to put this grade into perspective, there’s the odd 8th Dan teacher in the UK and a few leading western countries, and there’s a handful of 7th Dans in the UK – especially in Birmingham – but Greater Manchester has merely a few 5th Dan teachers and a retired 7th Dan as detailed in our guide to Manchester aikido classes, below. Even Japan’s Hombu Dojo itself boasts only half a dozen instructors graded higher than 7th Dan.
Aikido Classes in Manchester
If you’re interested in finding Aikido classes in Central or Greater Manchester, I can save you some hard work. I’ve done the research already – up to date as of Summer 2013 – check out this page for all the top Aikido classes in the Greater Manchester area, also featuring travel advice in case like me you’re also looking to travel from the city centre to these classes by foot or rail: